That holidays can be good for us both professionally and personally is a fact that’s long been established, but what’s remained a bit murkier is the kind of holiday that’s best for us.
Is a 14-day stretch in the sunshine still the way to max-out relaxation? Or is the reduced culture shock of a few well-planned mini-breaks spread over the year a better way to go?
New research suggests that actually, it may be the latter.
The study, commissioned by SuperBreak, suggests that taking regular mini-breaks throughout the year actually offers more benefits in terms of wellbeing, than one longer annual holiday.
So much so, 41 per cent of respondents said they they feel more refreshed after taking multiple shorter breaks, compared to 25 per cent who prefer to work uninterrupted for longer periods in order to take their traditional 14-day break.
The research also found that one long summer holiday has the potential to actually increase stress on our return, with nearly a third of study participants admitting to suffering from post-holiday blues, and feeling under pressure to catch-up at work.
“The power of a short break, even if only for one night, should not be underestimated in its ability to top up our wellness levels,” says psychologist and award-winning career coach, Denise Taylor. “What’s more, having a regular break to look forward to has a real impact on beating stress, and with less time out, naturally there is less to handover and catch up on.
“There’s also less stress in seeking to have the ‘perfect holiday’. A once-a-year holiday leads to high expectations; we can be more relaxed when we travel every few months.”
Psychotherapist and life coach Hilda Burke agrees, though does warn that it may only be the case for certain personalities.
“It really depends on the person,” she advises. “Many of us spend our lives wishing away the time waiting for our holidays, yet when we get there we aren't fully present - we're thinking about what we've left behind, what we need to do when we get home, fixating on how our holiday isn't turning out as we imagined.
“All that can distract us from enjoying 'the moment'. Perhaps for such a type of person, a little and often would be best.”
For those who take longer to unwind however, Burke still recommends the benefits of a longer holiday.
“There are those who struggle with unwinding, their lives are so hectic and diaries so crammed, that when they 'arrive' on holiday they're still reeling,” she explains.
“It can take a while to adjust to a different pace of life, and to days without fixed agendas. For these personality types, a holiday of longer duration is probably most suitable.
“Irrespective of how long or short our holidays are however, the the most important thing is just to be ‘present’.
“Many of us fret about our ‘beach bodies’, but what about our beach brains and minds? If we're worrying about what we've left behind at work, or what we have to face when we get back home, then are we really 'on holiday' at all?”